Reducing Chemical Exposure – avoiding harmful chemicals Use Toxic free Personal Care Products – reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals Remove harmful chemicals you use in and around the home Many of us think that exposure to chemicals in the home is safe but the cumulative effect of exposure to these chemicals is only now being explored. The concern is that whilst small amounts of these toxic substances in the human body may present no immediate threats we cannot say that these substances won’t adversely affect us in the long term. We know that high level exposure to many chemicals is immediately life threatening but what can on-going low-level exposure do? Whilst certain chemicals may only be present in one part per million a large combination of a variety of toxic substances creates a chemical cocktail. Certain chemicals by themselves that are non harmful can react with other chemicals creating carcinogenic by-products. Such substances are called “hidden carcinogens”. These are different from “Frank carcinogens”, chemicals that by themselves in large enough doses can cause cancer in mammals. It may be decades before conclusive research is conducted into the prolonged effects of low-level chemical exposure. By then, however, for many of us it may be too late. Let’s use a common sense approach for a change, to all chemical exposure, and try to reduce it where at all possible. The following is taken from an article in New Scientist , “Study reveals chemical cocktail in every person”. 25th November 2003.
A cocktail of potentially harmful man-made chemicals has been found in the blood of every person tested in a new UK study. The 155 volunteers, including EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström, were tested for gender-bending PCBs, flame retardants and organophosphates. The study, commissioned by the environmental group WWF, focused on 77 chemicals known to be “very persistent” in the environment and to accumulate in people’s bodies. It is one of the most comprehensive studies to date. The findings are “disturbing”, says Matthew Wilkinson, lead author of the report and WWF UK toxics policy officer. “Every single person we monitored had a range of these chemicals.” Researchers at the University of Lancaster tested the volunteers from 13 areas of the UK for the 77 chemicals. The highest number of chemicals found in any one person was 49, and the lowest was nine. The average number was about 30.
Another study that may interest you is the Environmental Working Group Body Burden. http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org/ The above Web site reports results from the most comprehensive study ever conducted of multiple chemical contaminants in humans. Reducing chemical exposure – avoiding harmful chemicals Making the decision to reduce your chemical exposure is a sensible choice. The easiest place to start is in your own home.
- Use personal care products that contain no toxic ingredients, and are carcinogen free. e.g. creams, deodorants, shampoos, conditioners etc .
- Remove harmful chemicals you use in and around the home e.g. cleaning agents such as bathroom cleaners, window cleaners, fly sprays, pesticides etc. Store paints, varnishes and the like outside, away from the house in suitable containers. Use non toxic, environmentally safe or natural products.
- Be mindful of other unsuspected potential sources of chemical exposure and where possible aim to reduce it. e.g., these include eating certified organic/bio dynamic food, drinking filtered water, using a shower filter*, avoiding plastic etc.
*Did you know that when you have a hot shower the heat of the water makes the chemicals in the tap water react to produce harmful VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). These harmful chemicals (also called compounds) are absorbed through skin pores and as the hot water evaporates we breath in the vapor whilst showering. The longer we have a hot shower the more chemicals we are exposed to. Many of these VOC’s are know carcinogens. House holders can receive 6 to 100 times more of the chemical by breathing the air around showers and baths than they would by drinking the water according to an article in NEW SCIENTIST 18 September, 1986. Ian Anderson. If you are drinking filtered water then you are only addressing half of the problem. The best way to avoid harmful exposure through bathing is to purchase a shower/bath filter. We personally use and recommend a Wellness Shower Filter. Don’t underestimate the need for a shower filter. Not convinced?, then research the matter for yourself. The New Scientist on-line archive is a good place to start research. The Environmental Systems Distributing Web site contains some interesting references about the risks associated with taking a hot shower.http://www.bidness.com/esd/showering.htm
Use Toxin Free Personal Care Products – reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals Many of the chemicals present in personal products are actually derived from the petrochemical industry– toxic substances that are effectively absorbed through the skin, scalp and mouth and which, over time, accumulate in the body’s organs and tissues leading to irritations, compromised immune system functioning and possibly even cancer. Did You Know the following about personal care products? There is “very little regulation of cosmetic and personal care products and none to prevent the inclusion of thousands of toxic ingredients and their contaminants”. 1 There is no “obligation on the manufacturers part to sell products which will actually do what they claim to do. This is because these products come under the regulation and labeling requirements of the Trades Practices Act (1974) and not the stringent Therapeutic Goods Act”. 2 Companies that make claims such as ‘fragrance-free’, ‘hypoallergenic’, ‘natural’, non-cosmedogenic, low sensitivity or dermatologist tested, are potentially misleading consumers because there is no official definition for these terms and they have no obligations under the law when making these statements. 3 Manufacturers ARE NOT required to list the exact ingredients on a label. “There is no current Australian Standard for the labeling of ingredients in cosmetics.” 4 Chemical names are often disguised by using “trade names”, so you may not recognize the chemical for what it truly is. 5 “Long-term toxic effects of personal care products include blood and organdamage, damage to embryonic tissues and DNA, oestrogencity, and carcinogenic effects”. 6 Regular shampoos often contain formaldehyde as a preservative. This ingredient is considered a ‘Frank Carcinogen’. Beauticians and hairdressers who constantly work with cosmetic and personal care products are at much higher risk of developing lung, uterus, ovary, breast, digestive and respiratory cancer. 7 WARNING: You can’t trust warning labels!
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) US analyzed 2983 chemicals used in personal care products. The results were as follows:
- 884 of the chemicals were toxic
- 314 caused biological mutation
- 218 caused reproductive complications
- 778 caused acute toxicity
- 146 caused tumors
- 376 caused skin and eye irritations 8
If you are concerned and would like to make a change all you have to do is swap brands. Its important for consumers to make informed choices. The best thing you can do for you and your family is to find a Manufacturer genuinely committed to making safe products and avoiding all known toxic ingredients. If you don’t, you are sending a message to large companies that it is ok to use toxic ingredients in products. Only through market pressure will companies be forced to change. As consumers, we can force this change. Support a company whose mission you support. You can’t expect the world to change if you don’t change! Remove harmful chemicals you use in and around the home Cleaning your home with chemicals is not as effective as you think. Heavy advertising has led us to believe that we need a variety of chemicals to clean with and one for each area. This is simply not the case. A good example is glass cleaner. When you clean glass with a chemical agent it leaves a film on the surface. When fingers are placed on the glass, fingerprints are left behind. The fingerprints are imprinted in the film thus allowing the marks to appear. A more effective means of cleaning the surface is to simply use a spray bottle with water, a fibre technology based cleaning cloth (Enjo) and a soft drying cloth. However if you try this you will first need to remove all chemical buildup on the glass. This may initially take some effort. You will need to clean the glass several times. Once the chemical residue has been removed the glass will be cleaned effectively and quickly using the above method. Fingerprints are no longer a problem as there is no film to imprint your marks, and the surface is less likely to attract dust. What about bacteria? Well a clean dry surface will contain minimal bacteria. Mould and bacteria flourish in a moist environment so keep all surfaces clean and dry.
A resent study conducted by Dr Peter Dingle, Australian Environmental Scientist, has shown that fibre technology (Enjo) provides the best bench cleaning cloth, removing 99.99% of bacteria on all surfaces, even a rough surface such as formica, which is more difficult to clean. The study also found that generic brand anti-bacterial cloths and sponges performed the most poorly. Some contained very high levels of bacteria and high levels were left on the ‘cleaned’ surfaces. Through his research Dr Dingle concluded that there was no advantages to using such antibacterial cloths or sponges and several disadvantages. 9
Proper ventilation is important in reducing moisture in the air. Opening windows and turning on extraction fans will greatly assist the reduction of moisture build up. Constant use of antibacterial cleaning products has the same effect as overuse of oral antibiotics. ‘Super Bugs’ are created (resilient bacteria), increasing the chances of infection and complicating treatment. Enjo is a great way to effectively remove bacteria without using harmful chemicals. Enjo will save you time, money, reduce your chemical exposure and help save our environment. Enjo – Fibre based cleaning works in 4 ways.
- Fibre tips break down grease particles into smaller particles
- The point of the fibre tip lifts dirt and grease off the surface and the charge of static electricity between fibres helps collect it
- The physical structure and electrical charge helps lock in particles once collected
- The surface area of the fibres is large allowing large amounts of particles to be held in
- The fibres are engineered to be different lengths so they can reach into the pockets of uneven surfaces
Leaving a surface clean and dry is the best prevention against bacterial growth. Understanding the science of cleaning will be of great benefit to you and your family. We highly recommend Dr Dingles book “Sick Homes 2 – Dust and the science of cleaning”. The book Sick Homes (available for purchase above is now the combination of Sick Homes 1 and Sick Homes 2). In addition to fibre based cleaning there are a number of natural cleaning agents you can use. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar are great for cleaning. They are effective, cheap, and safe for you and the environment. Both substances are commonly used in food and are safe to ingest. If you would like to find out recommended product brands that contain no ‘harmful chemicals’ please fill in our online form. For further information about reducing exposure to harmful chemicals view our recommended readings listed to the left and read about our detox-me-patches. ______________________________________________________________________ 1 Dingle, Peter, Cosmetics and Personal Care Dangerous Beauty, Australia, Peter Dingle and Toni Brown, 1999, p. 37. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. p11. 7 Ibid. p12. 8 Possick, Kare, Why Are You Poisoning Your Family, A Consumer Alert Publication. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. USA. 1994. 9 Dingle, Peter, Dust and the Science of Cleaning, Peter Dingle and Toni Brown, 2002, p. 29. 10 Ibid. p28.